A Rutgers surgeon has performed the first robotic-assisted hysterectomy in the region – a technique that leaves women who undergo the procedure with little or no scar.
Mira Hellmann, a member of the gynecologic-oncology team at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, performed the single-incision hysterectomy Feb. 20 on Margaret Cuny, 58, of Spring Lake Heights, to rule out the possibility of ovarian cancer after a cyst was discovered last year. No evidence of ovarian cancer was found.Minimally invasive robotic hysterectomy, performed with four to five small incisions in the pelvic region, has become the standard of care in women’s health. The latest robotic procedure – the single-incision or ‘single port’ method – involves only one such incision strategically placed near the belly-button to achieve a somewhat ‘scarless’ surgery. In some patients, the scar is barely noticeable, in others not at all.
The one-incision procedure takes the same amount of time as the standard robotic method. The technique requires special equipment from the robotic device’s manufacturer, available to only select physicians, including Hellmann, based on surgical experience. Hellmann has been performing an array of robotic procedures spanning the field of gynecologic oncology since 2007.
“It’s about improved quality of life,” says Hellmann, who is also an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “We are pleased to offer women increased access to the next generation of innovative robotic surgical techniques."
The robotic hysterectomy allows a surgeon to control a set of robotic arms that hold tiny surgical instruments used to remove the patient's uterus. Unlike the traditional open hysterectomy method that results in a scar crossing the entire bikini line, patients who undergo this latest minimally invasive technique are left with an incision the diameter of a quarter. The procedure also allows for additional precision with a 3-D view of the tissue and typically results in minimal blood loss and short hospital stays.
Cuny’s cyst was discovered during a routine gynecologist visit. After nearly a year of surveillance, her local doctors recommended a hysterectomy and referred her to the Cancer Institute.
Following surgery, Cuny, a sales associate for a department store chain, spent one night in the hospital and then returned home; her pain subsided within two days.
“The scar is barely noticeable and I am pleased already with how quickly I was able to move around with ease,” said Cuny, whose usual routine includes running up to three miles four days a week. “This new method of surgery is going to allow me to resume my regular, active lifestyle much quicker, which is very important to me.”